News Briefs

Published: Friday, May 14, 2010
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OVA1 Assesses Ovarian Cancer Risk

Quest Diagnostics will begin selling OVA1, a blood test the FDA approved in September 2009 for use in ovarian cancer. OVA1 helps physicians determine the likelihood that an ovarian mass is malignant prior to surgery. The manufacturer said the test will allow physicians to refer patients to specialists more promptly.

Proposed Lymphedema Index

Investigators from the Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have developed a lymphedema index (LI) for objectively evaluating women with breast cancer for lymphedema after breast cancer surgery. The LI quantifies lymphedema by substracting control arm displacement from affected arm displacement to achieve the Delta (LI = Delta/CAD). They defined edema as Delta ≥200 cm3. Using the LI in 491 women who had surgery for unilateral breast cancer identified a rate of lymphedema of 13.8%. Data were reported at the 2010 Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Cancer Symposium.

Seeing the Glass Half-Full Could Improve Survival

We have often heard about the power of a positive attitude, and now a Mayo Clinic retrospective study suggests there may be some truth to the adage, at least for patients with lung cancer. In an article published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, researchers reported that patients identified as having an optimistic personality survived a median of 6 months longer than those classified as having a pessimistic outlook. The 5-year survival rate was 32.9% for optimists (or nonpessimists) and 21.1% for pessimists. Paul Novotny, MD, who led the study, said the level of pessimism independently correlated with survival outcomes.

MRI Detects Contralateral Cancer More Often in Postmenopausal Women

A study in the Breast Journal says postmenopausal women with newly diagnosed cancer in one breast are more likely to have an undiagnosed tumor identified in the contralateral breast with MRI than premenopausal women. In a study of 425 women, 3.8% were found to have undetected contralateral cancer when evaluated with MRI and all were postmenopausal. The rate increased to 5.4% for the subset of women aged ≥70 years. Investigators recommend physicians consider MRI for all postmenopausal women with cancer diagnosed in one breast, regardless of age.

Men Who Have Prostatectomy Seldom Die of Prostate Cancer

A presentation at the ASCO 2010 Genitourinary Cancers symposium suggests that deaths after prostatectomy more often result from causes other than prostate cancer. Investigators examined data for 119,391 men who received a prostate cancer diagnosis between 1988 and 2003 and underwent radical prostatectomy. Of the 17,996 deaths, 19% were due to prostate cancer, 29% were from cardiovascular causes, 27% resulted from other malignancies, and 25% were from an unknown cause. In men aged >65 years, mortality rate for prostate cancer in the 5 years after surgery was 0.9% compared with 7.7% of other causes, and at 15 years, only 4.6% died of prostate cancer compared with 42.3% who died of other causes.

Lung Cancer Risk from Hormone Replacement Therapy Persists

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with a combination of estrogen and progestin appears to increase the risk of lung cancer in women aged 50 to 76 years. The Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine study found that women who received HRT for at least 10 years had a nearly 50% greater risk of developing lung cancer. The researchers pointed out that this risk is significantly worse than the risk of lung cancer from smoking. The use of HRT to treat menopause, particularly as long-term therapy, has been declining, according to lead investigator Chris Slatore, but the risk may remain for millions of women who received HRT previously. Complete data were published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Most Cancer Patients Experience Breakthrough Pain

The American Pain Foundation surveyed 545 patients living with cancer and taking medication to manage pain and found that 75% experience breakthrough cancer pain. Approximately 3 out of every 4 patients reported being woken from a deep sleep because of breakthrough cancer pain, and 83% said the pain hampers their desire to participate in certain activities. Slightly more than half the patients rated their episodes of breakthrough pain as ≥8 in intensity, with a score of 10 being “the worst pain imaginable.” The foundation has unveiled an educational initiative to make physicians and patients more aware of breakthrough cancer pain. Many resources are available at

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Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Community Practice Connections™: 18th Annual International Lung Cancer Congress®Oct 31, 20181.5
Provider and Caregiver Connection™: Addressing Patient Concerns While Managing Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and VomitingOct 31, 20182.0
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